“We almost pulled out of Chan”: Rukoro

21 Jan 2018 15:50pm
By Hesron Kapanga
MARRAKECH, 21 JAN (NAMPA) – With Namibia qualifying for the Chan quarter-finals, Namibia Football Association (NFA) Secretary-General Barry Rukoro said he is happy they did not withdraw the team from the competition when times were hard.
Rukoro told Nampa in an interview here last Wednesday, the Brave Warriors were nearly pulled out of the African Nations Championship (Chan) qualifiers due to the absence of a league in Namibia and a lack of resources.
He said coach Ricardo Mannetti approached him with the idea of withdrawing the team from the Chan qualifiers, because he felt the players were not ready for the championship and did not have the needed resources to prepare well.
“After deliberating, I advised him to use the games as preparation for future Chan qualifiers,” Rukoro said.
He added that after a number of training camps, the Brave Warriors technical team saw potential in the players even though there was no league in the country.
The Namibia Premier League found itself without a sponsor following the end of a sponsorship contract by Mobile Telecommunications Limited (MTC) in August 2016. But after a year without football, MTC and First National Bank Namibia agreed to jointly sponsor the league, which resumed in October 2017.
Rukoro said with the team’s participation in the Council of Southern African Football Associations (Cosafa) Cup, the training camps started bearing fruit as the players gelled well.
“Credit should be given to the Namibian Government, who bought into the NFA’s idea of hosting training camps for the senior national team when there was no hope of a league kicking off,” he said.
Rukoro added that they did not have the resources to keep the team in camp and play friendly matches against Botswana and Zimbabwe, “but the government bought into our philosophy to host the camps and compete in the Cosafa Cup before the Chan qualifiers began.”
The Brave Warriors then won a friendly match against Botswana 3-1 in Windhoek in October last year and in the Chan qualifiers, Namibia defeated Zimbabwe and Comoros on aggregate.
This sent Namibia to the finals of the competition currently underway in Morocco.
Rukoro is confident that the players are ready to represent the country well at Chan and future competitions.
After two games in the 2018 Chan group stages, the Brave Warriors are level on six points with Zambia, but Zambia tops the log on a better goal difference.
The two nations clash in Casablanca at the Mohammed V Sport Complex on Monday at 21h00, Namibian time, to decide the group winner and runner-up to face the top two teams in Group A, being hosts Morocco and Sudan, in the quarter-finals.